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Cablegate: Guidance: Middle East Briefing, October 22

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DE RUEHC #2275 2960225
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O 220220Z OCT 08
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TO USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0000

UNCLAS STATE 112275

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UNSC PREL LE IS SY
SUBJECT: GUIDANCE: MIDDLE EAST BRIEFING, OCTOBER 22

1. (U) This is an action message. USUN is authorized to
draw from points in para 2 below during the Middle East
Briefing scheduled for October 22.

2. (U) Talking points.

-- I would like to thank Special Coordinator Serry for his
briefing on the situation in the Middle East. This is a
time of transition in the region, during which the State
of Israel is working through the process of forming a new
government, and the Palestinian Authority is working to
institutionalize progress it has made in improving
security and economic conditions on the ground. At this
juncture, the Council should be considering not only the
problems we face, but the real opportunities for progress
before us.

-- At the September 26 Council meeting on the Situation in
the Middle East, Secretary Rice asked that countries in
the region, particularly Arab states, consider ways they
might reach out to Israel to demonstrate their ongoing
commitment to the peace process. I wish to reiterate this
request. Efforts of this nature will be especially
important in setting the right tone for constructive
relations with the new Israeli government, and are far
more likely to yield positive change than attempts to
isolate Israel, focusing one-sidedly on only its
responsibilities without reference to the larger
context.

-- The U.S. is strongly committed to realizing President
Bush's vision of two states, Israel and Palestine. We
remain optimistic about the possibility of reaching that
goal via our support for the parties' bilateral
negotiations. We believe these talks are sincere and
substantive. They are addressing all issues, and remain
confidential at the parties' request.

-- President Bush and Secretary Rice's personal engagement
in support of this process demonstrates our commitment to
achieving a peaceful, two-state solution as quickly as
possible. We are also pleased to see Israel and Syria in
indirect talks and hope they will cover all the relevant
issues, including Syria's support for terrorist groups in
Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. The United States
will continue to focus intensively on the Israeli-
Palestinian track.

-- There can be no lasting political solution that is not
underpinned by a robust Palestinian economy. The U.S.
supports Prime Minister Fayyad's economic reforms and
priorities as outlined in the Palestinian Reform and
Development Plan.

-- Secretary Rice underscored how both the public and
private sectors are essential for sustainable development
in her remarks to the Palestinian Business and Investment
Forum in Washington on October 14. The Secretary noted
that Prime Minister Fayyad had erased millions in private
debt and public salary arrears, preparing the way for the
Palestinian Authority to shift its resources to invest in
the infrastructure necessary to support continued private
sector expansion.

-- It is in this context, of opportunities for progress
that should not be missed, that we encourage all states to
contribute support to the Palestinian Authority. To
sustain this progress, it will need significant and
regular flows of donor assistance throughout 2009. The
ability of the PA to meet its budget obligations,
including payment of salaries and implementation of its
security efforts throughout the West Bank, is critical to
our shared goal of establishing a Palestinian state.

-- For our own part, total U.S. assistance to the
Palestinians in 2008 will surpass our pledged level of
$555 million, including $264 million in project
assistance, $150 million in direct budget support, and
$184.6 million for the UN Relief and Works Agency. We
are transferring an additional $150 million in
budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority as part of
our ongoing commitment in fiscal year 2009.

-- We urge all parties to adhere to the period of calm
that began on June 19 as a result of Egypt's efforts. We
condemn violent efforts by Hamas and other groups to usurp
the lawful authority of the Palestinian government in
Gaza. The Quartet's principles remain determinative:
renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel, and
acceptance of previous agreements between the parties.

-- We reiterate our deep concern at continued Israeli
settlement activity, which damages the atmosphere for
negotiations, and call on Israel to freeze this activity
and dismantle outposts erected since March 2001,
consistent with its Roadmap obligations.

-- Finally, I would like to say a few words about the
situation in Lebanon, which faces its own transition in
elections next year. We welcome the arrival in Beirut of
the new Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams,
and wish to express our strong support for his efforts in
carrying out the important duties of this office.

-- Implementation of UNSCRs 1559, 1680 and 1701, and
fulfillment of the pledges made in the Doha Agreement, are
essential to safeguard Lebanon's sovereignty and security.
Two years after the conflict instigated by Hizballah,
however, the rearmament of this group remains the most
important matter for the Council to consider in Lebanon
with regard to its duty to safeguard international peace
and security. We remain concerned at persistent reports
of breaches of the arms embargo along the Lebanon-Syria
border, and condemn continued Iranian and Syrian provision
of lethal support to Hizballah and other terrorist groups
inside Lebanon. We join the Secretary General in noting
that fullimplementation of the embargo as an indispensable
part of resolution 1701 must be observed comprehensively
and without exception.

-- We look forward to speedy implementation of the October
17 agreement between Syria and Lebanon to exchange
diplomatic missions before the end of the year. Full
normalization must also include delineation of the
Lebanese-Syrian border. We call on the SYG to engage with
both parties towards immediate progress on this issue.

-- We welcome the Secretary General's intention to
strengthen the diplomatic process aimed at dealing with
the issue of the Sheba'a Farms. We urge him to engage
directly with Israel, Lebanon, and Syria on this issue.
We also strongly support the work of the UN Independent
Investigative Commission and look forward to the opening
of a Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

End points.
RICE

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